Meet Claire, Lucy, Kada, Kaitlyn, Claudia, and Elijah. They are the six student musicians who are building the foundation for the Keystone Oaks High School’s student orchestra program as it debuts in the high school this year.
“It’s not easy being the the forerunners to any new program, let alone an orchestra program that is being built following the last two years, when students across the country discontinued playing an instrument for any number of reasons," said Mr. Richard Smith, a new music teacher at Keystone Oaks middle and high schools. “But this group of students has persevered and they are very excited to build an orchestra program for Keystone Oaks High School and I am looking forward to working with them to do so."
Four of the students began playing as fifth graders when the orchestra program was piloted during the 2018-2019 school year. One student began playing in third grade at another school. Junior Claudia Scott currently plays instruments in both marching band and jazz band and wanted to learn a new instrument, so she joined the orchestra program this year.
“I enjoy music and am interested in a career in this field,” Claudia said. “Since I had room in my schedule this year, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to learn something new.”
"I love playing an instrument because it allows me to do something that is hands-on and it adds something different to my school day," freshman Elijah Hubinsky added.
This year, Mr. Smith, his students, and Mr. Rob Naser, a Keystone Oaks elementary music teacher and the leader for the Humanities Department, will work to grow the program by recruiting new students and reconnecting with those who participated in the past.
“For students who played in the past, I want them to know that they are more than welcome to come back and rejoin the orchestra and continue their musical journeys,” Mr. Smith said. “I also want students to know that it is never too late to start learning an instrument; if orchestra is something that interests them, they can still get started, even in high school.”
Mr. Naser agreed, adding that the department is “ really excited about the opportunity to explore pieces of music that join together band, orchestra, and choir in a symphonic orchestra experience. The collaboration of these three ensembles has such great potential for students to perform very rewarding musical literature.”
While the group may be small (for now), their friendship as members of the orchestra program is evident as they laugh with one another, support each other, and offer helpful suggestions during class.
“When you play an instrument, you build a bond with that instrument,” freshman Claire Auses said. “But when you play in an orchestra - or any musical group - you also have to build a bond with one another. Since several of us have played together the past few years, we have a friendship that will hopefully be apparent as we play together this year.”
You can watch these orchestra students, as well as the symphonic band, jazz band, and chorus, during two concerts this year: Thursday, December 15, 2022 and Thursday, May 11, 2023. The spring concert will also include a high school art show. Shows begin at 7 p.m. in the Michael A. Callara Auditorium.
Learn more about Keystone Oaks' art and music programs by joining the Art & Music at Keystone Oaks Facebook Group and by following the department on Instagram - @artmusic_ko.